Where to start with our Looper review? Filmmaker Rian Johnson cringes when the word “original” is used to describe his film because he feels his latest borrows heavily from films as varied as Blade Runner and Witness. Whether he likes it or not… that is exactly what Looper is: Wildly original in the purest sense of the phrase.
Joseph Gordon Levitt stars as a Looper, a mob assassin who lives in a world where in the future, time travel exists and is illegal. The only people who are using it are mobsters who find it a fantastic way to eliminate their problems. They capture an individual and send him back in time where Gordon Levitt is waiting, gun at the ready.
Bruce Willis portrays the older version of Gordon Levitt’s Looper. He has been running from his fate for 30 years we learn, to no avail. He is caught, captured and sent back to be killed by his younger self. Not so fast… as Willis outsmarts his assassin and heads out into the past.
Willis and Gordon Levitt not only give stellar and congruent performances, but the two have a sizzling chemistry in the scenes they share. That achievement is no easy feat and both actors rise to the level of the film they have the honor of appearing in.
Emily Blunt is all over the Looper trailer, and some may wonder when she will appear. The UK actress arrives halfway through the film and makes her presence felt like a hurricane. But it is the actor who plays her five-year-old son who is the true revelation. Pierce Gagnon may be physically a small child, but the performance projected from him is mesmerizing as if it came from someone with decades more experience.
Johnson first marveled with his Brick. The filmmaker got star power in Willis that got his next feature into production. It is clear experiencing the movie that Johnson got the Die Hard legend with a script that knocked his socks off.
The Looper creator and his mind-blowing story ought to join a new generation of filmmakers who began their careers with visionary pieces of work that allowed them to springboard straight to the top of the A-list.
Immediately a few come to mind. Christopher Nolan scored with one of his first, Memento, and now he rules thanks to his The Dark Knight trilogy and Inception. Also Paul Thomas Anderson, with his work on Boogie Nights and now the Oscar and audience buzz surrounding his latest, The Master.
These are the artists who create must-see films, and they began with groundbreaking work as Johnson has with Looper.
Johnson’s film is one of those rare movies that, as it is witnessed over and over — as it should be — Johnson’s plot and cinematic poise will highlight something different each time. It is a masterpiece that will be studied in film schools for its acting, execution and frankly… art.